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Discuss China in Terms of Being the “Middle Kingdom, ” Population Growth Issues, and Industrialization.

  • Date Submitted: 01/20/2012 10:27 PM
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Whitney Bloomer
GE350 World Geography
Assignment 3

Zhangguo means middle kingdom when translated from Mandarin to English. Consequently, this is also the word for China in Mandarin. The Chinese believed that they were the center of the world. This belief dates back as far as c. 1000 B.C., when the Chou people were situated on the North China Plain. These people were unaware of the west and believed that they were surrounded by barbarians. They were not aware that in the western hemisphere, of the world, there were civilizations as well. The term middle kingdom, that China had adopted, was based by a firm belief that they were the center of civilization.   This belief was firmly tested when industrialization finally came to China.

Industrialization came late to China. The Chinese beliefs centered on relationships with people which made the family unit more important than the individual. This could be the reason rapid urbanization did not happen until 1949 – 1960, during the Mao Zedong era.   Part of the rapid urbanization resulted from industrialization around previously administrative cites. Another part came from the development of new inland centers. A plan was enacted called, “The Great Leap Forward”, of the 1950s, which aimed to increase China’s rate of industrialization by producing basic industrial products, such as iron and steel.   However, this plan was a disaster, because it caused a neglect of farm work and made worse the drought based famine, they were in at the time, so the plan was dropped.   Even through the failure of “The Great Leap Forward” and the famine, China’s population continued to rise despite the soaring death rates, plummeting birth rates and the severe famine.

Today China supports one-fifth of the population on only seven percent or the world’s arable land. Fertility reduction became a priority in the 1970s which eventually led to the one-child policy. Through this policy, families were offered free health-care,...


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